Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Whistle of the wind, OMR

This photo taken from the 9th floor of Mantri Synergy apartment complex doesn't reflect the sound and speed of the  wind blowing from the sea several hour before Cyclone Nilam was expected to hit the coast ( Wednesday evening). You get a sense of  play of the scene from these YouTube clips::
Whistling wind - 1
Whistling wind - 2

Driveway side flowers

Now that I have been bitten by this YouTube bug, I take a shot at whatever I fancy during our morning walk at our residential complex on OMR.
I have set up my own channel - MyTakebyGVK - on YouTube

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

At a OMR community concert

Anuja in concert at Navarathri celebrations.  Photo by -  Mr Lakshmanan (my D block neighbour)

I am not into music of the Carnatic kind, but  on wife's recommendation, I attended Anuja's rendering of concert music as part of Mantri Synergy Navarathri celebrations at our clubhouse. Anuja's approach, presentation, and the way she addressed the audience appealed even to the uninformed among us, says my wife. It is this quality,  more than anything else,  that empowered Anuja (H-block) to teach music to the 4-year-olds.

Talent alone isn't enough. It takes poise, stage presence and ettiquette to make a musician. And, in my book, Anuja (H block)  makes the grade in all departments. What's more, she has the temperament to put up with other hassles of a community gathering during Navarathri.

For many us in the audience music is a  side-show. On such occasions we are more into socializing, social networking. Artistes often find themselves performing for an uncaring audience, or empty chairs. Anuja handled with grace the irritating rings of audience cell-phones; incessant back-row chatter; and hyper active toddlers who barely sit in one chair for more than 17 seconds at a time. Children appeared to have a free play in the hall; and if singers find this a distraction, they simply  grin and bear it. I wonder if organisers or anyone else can do much about this. After all, the children escorting elders need to be engaged.

Ms Karthikaipavai of cultural programme committee  could, perhaps,  do with some volunteer baby-sitters to run a cartoon films show or some thing elsewhere at the clubhouse during Navarathri  song and dance evenings. Ms Pavai would also do well to put up a proposal to the Association,  for sanction of a few pedestal fans in the clubhouse.. A packed hall without air-conditioners adds to the discomfort of children and women, notably, those in heavy silk sari.

As I said at the start, carnatic music is not quite my cup of tea. Realising this, presumably, Anuja wound up her concert with a touching Tamil number  - Ethanai janmum eduthalum..... The pull of one's own soil has been the theme of poets and lyricists in every language. My own favourites in this genre include Chhod Aaye Hum Oh Galian ... and  O Yaaro Maaf Karna ...

As they have done so well in identifying in-house talent in carnatic music, Ms Pavai and friends in her committee should scout for  talent within our complex to make an evening of  movie  songs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Community event at Hiranandani's, OMR

My friend Viswanath at Mantri Synergy, with connection in other residential communities on OMR sent a set of pictures taken during a community event at Hirananadani's,  Navalur. We have at Mantri's quite a few Hiranandani families that have taken apartments on rent while their own place is getting ready for occupation.
For more photos on Hiranandani's community event look up OMR Resident on Facebook.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Navarathri @ MantriSynergy, OMR

The young ladies organizing community Kolu (display of dolls) at our clubhouse were keen on projecting a green message; and Neeraj of  OMR Greens, with Sundeep, landscaped a model (see photo) that has a windmill towering over a green patch. I would like to see, wouldn't you, our apartments owners association taking a cue from Sundeep/Neeraj model, and take a shot at setting up rooftop windmills at  Mantri Synergy. My friends and D block neighbour , Mr Sriraj, has expressed his willingness to offer his apartment terrace for putting up a hybrid solar-wind power generation unit, as a pilot programme.
Meanwhile, as part of Navarthri celebrations a rangoli contest was held at our clubhouse last weekend. My favourite entry,  picked out for its message, is the rangoli that talks about the oneness of people, of different religious faiths, and of the green imperative for saving Planet Earth.
And then I happened to visit Ms Lakshmi Gopalan's (F 603) apartment, where the kolu she has set up depicts urbanisation of rual Padur, in the wake of real estate development all  around the village  - Akshaya,Oak Tree, Rosedale, and, of course Mantri Synergy. Mrs Gopalan's landscape reflects transition of Padur,from village to a township, as a result of our moving into their neighbourhood. The Kolu artist also takes note of our new-found neighbourhood community initiative - OMR Greens.
Lakshmi Gopalan's Kolu on YouTube.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Trash-busting 20/10, Padur @ OMR

Trash-busters pose for photo by Arun Raveendran Nair. He handles a shovel and trash 'tokri' as well as he does, a camera.
We thought we would be beaten back; and despite a wet and unwelcoming weather a bunch of us, hardcore OMR Green-ers, made a go of Trash-busting on Padur main street. We had the backing of Hindustan University  students, notably girls, and two faculty members  Prof. Geethadevi, and Dr Ilavazhagan, who took to the street with us in our green awareness drive.
Dr G Ilavazhagan, Director(Research), Hinduatan University,  along with a student, did heavy-duty trash-lifting near Padur bustand.   Prof. Geethadevi, got down to picking up used paper cups discarded on pavement in front of a teashop.
Padur Panchayat chief, Mr Chinnakutty, showed up at the bus stand to facilitate our 'do' and and organise transporting of trash to the dumping yard. Shopkeepers,and scores of passers-by stood watching us, perhaps,  baffled at our intervention. OMR Greens' Rajaraman and Prof. Geethadevi went up to shopkeepers to tell them what the score was; and why it wasn't such a good idea to litter pavement with garbage. A shopkeeper was heard arguing, it was for the panchayat to keep the streets clean. Maybe, he has a point. And OMR Greens' appeal is addressed to people and their panchayat alike.
OMR Greens on YouTube                  

Solar power, the cost factor

Commercial tariff for grid power: Rs.6 - Rs.8 per unit:
Disesel generator back-up - Rs. 16 - Rs.18
Solar power - Rs.10 a unit.
So says Solkar Solar MD, Mr K E Raghunathan. He is quoted in media as saying,  some 60 sq.ft space is required for one kW rooftop system, capable of producing 5 units on a fair weather day. 
A solar photovoltaic power plant, with a capacity of one kilowatt, has been up and running for some months at a Kilpauk residence of Mr D Suresh.
He has 10 solar panels; a dual power converter, along with 10 batteries of 100 ampere-hours (AH) capacity each. During day, the power plant lights the house and during night, the converter takes over, drawing power from the batteries. 
Capital cost:  Rs. 2.5 lakh, inclusive of  subsidy of Rs.80,000 provided through the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA). Net cost for consumer: Rs.1.7 lakh.
If someone is planning a study visit to Mr Suresh's  Kilpauk house, I would be interested.
This one can be taken up by OMR Greens.

Friday, October 19, 2012

OMR Greens: Our charge against Mantri's

Our next door neighbour at Padur,  OMR and organic farmer Mr R Ranganathan, who has been here since early 1970s, says hundreds of trees - coconut and mango - were slaughtered by Mantri's to pave way for raising our residential complex.
So, what's new in it, doesn't every developer do it ? I would have thought so as well, had  a Mantri resident Mr D Venkatesan (A-block) not e-mailed us a media report citing a statement by Snehal Mantri. She was reported in The Hindu Property Plus (Jan.12, 2008) as saying :
When MDPL took over the land on OMR at Chennai, the entire area looked so green we had second thoughts about building Mantri Synergy there. We then thought of transplantation. There were a total of 165 coconut trees, 24 mango trees and around 140 teak wood trees spread there, and we managed to save 90% of the trees.
A tree count on Mantri Synergy campus appears appropriate.  So that,  when the apartment owners association takes over of assets from Mantri's,  we could seek an account of transplanted trees from Mantri's. Apart from an exercise in 'green' auditing, this has financial implication. The cost of transplanting a tree (at 2008 price level) ranged from Rs,5,000 to Rs.10,000. And the expenses, we assume, was billed to apartment buyers .
Meanwhile OMR Greens would like to see trees planted wherever we can. We could do with some on the sides of our front lawn, for some shade on driveway. Would it be too late to consider planting some, may be neem, in celebration of our 'Go Green' Navarathri ?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Navarathri @ OMR

Photos by  Mantri Synergy resident Chelakara Viswanath
A spirited group of young residents at Mantri Synergy were at work till wee hours of Tuesday (Oct.16) setting up Navarathri dolls at the clubhouse community hall. Sandeep who has flair for design and decorative art, and Neeraj of OMR Greens (whose theme is projected in kolu) , along with their wives did the landscaping. They were at it till 4 a m, says Ms Karthikaipavai who heads the Navarathri celebrations panel.
Mr Jayamani, his wife, and Mr Soundarajan, did Ganapathy puja, Tuesday morning, to mark the start of the 9-day celebrations.
During Navarathri we have puja, twice daily - 7.30 a m and 6 p m. Those who wish to taste 'sundal' prasadam, from varied households, would do well not to miss the evening session. Which, I believe, includes music and dance sessions on a daily basis.
YouTube 1) Navarathri Kolu @ OMR 1 - 7 mins
 2) Navarathri Kolu @ OMR 2 - 1.15 mins.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

OMR Greens: Placards wanted

We are looking for school students who can help us with painting placards on cardboard sheets, taken  from discarded packing cases. The cards would carry environment-related messages, preferably, in Tamil, Malayalam, Assamese, Bwngali and English.
Whatever the language, the message is the same. Idea is to address these messages to people at Padur, which is also home for students and migrant workers from other states.
OMR Greens plans trash-busting 20/10 at Padur. After cleaning up garbage along Padur main street near the bus stand, we propose to march through the streets in Padur, carrying placards with green messages such as:

1) We're Trash Busters - 'kuppai ozhippu padai' (in Tamil)
2) Plant Trees, Banish Trash
Marum Nedu; Kuppai Eadu (Tamil)
3) Trash-busting 20/10, Padur
Save the Lake, Save Water
5) OMR Greens
we're on Facebook,YouTube 

It would help, if you turn in your placards (don't forget to sign your name,Class, School, at the bottom) by Sat. morning. That is, before
8.00 a m (start from Mantri gates in procesion)
Padur Main Street (near bus stand)
Trash-busting (8.15 - 9.30 a m)
Green Awareness march (9.30 a m) through Padur streets.

Organic retail @ OMR

Organic farmer Ranganathan has opened a retail outlet on his OMR farmland at Padur, near Kelambakkam. His shop, set up in the front hall of his farm house, sells about 140 organic products procured from 2,000 farmers in Tamilnadu and elsewhere. Mr Ranganathan, an activist in organic farming, said he got initiated by a friend in Sweden in early 1970s.
That was the time when he came from his native Myladuthurai to work at a dairy in Chennai. It was around the same yime he set up a farm of his own on a one-acre patch near Kelambakkam on OMR. His farm  is now sourrounded by high-rise residential buildings. Amid the emerging communities developed by the Mantri's, the Gem Group, X S Real, the Jain Housing Group and the Poorvankara, would Mr Ranganathan's one-acre coconut and Mango patch hold out on its own ?
'I have no intention of giving up my farm land, not till my death, at any rate," says 64-year-old Ranganathan.
He moved his organic retail  from T Nagar to his own farmland a month back, Besides vegetables and organic fruits, the OMR outlet stocks a wide range of value-added food items, neatly packed, labeled and bottled.
Mr Ranganathan wanted us  to report to him our assessment of organic milk he procures from a  Chingulpet dairy-owner who maintains a livestock of 100 truly Indian bred cattle. He gets organic milk packets only on weekends nowadays.. Mr Ranganathan said could arrange for daily milk supply,  if he could have a customer base of at least 60 neighbourhood residents.
Mr Ranganathan can be reached at 9443346369; Landline - 044 27475961
Related YouTube video clips:
Farmhouse organic outlet on OMR - 2.43 mins.
Organic farmer Mr Ranganathan interview - 4.05 mins.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

OMR Greens - Review 13/10

With barely 3 days left for the start of  Navarathri celebrations at Mantri Synergy residential complex, a  OMR Greens activist,  Neeraj Singh , has volunteered to take up with Madhumita and friends modalities of the  Greens involvement by way of  1) designing a display of kolu toys depicting a scene from Trash-busting 29/9 (to be cleared by kolu organisers); and
2) Organising a children's film evening - showing 10-15 min. OMR Greens video, and a feature film - Cars -1.  Mr Arvind Rajgopaul  has agreed to provide digital copy for the film show. Date , to be decided in consultation with programme organisers.
Incidentally, Mr Rajgopaul would be happy to loan his grandson's toy-train set (Thomas and Friends) for Kolu display,  if Navarathri organisers would be interested.
Our next trash-busting is scheduled on  Saturday, Oct.20, at Padur main bus stop on the main street. Plan is, OMR Greens volunteers plan to assemble at Mantri's main gate at 8 a m, and march to Padur with their cleaning gear. Padur panchayat chief is expected to join them on the job around 9 a m.
Meanwhile a 2 min, video on the current status of the trash dump (pathetic) that was cleaned up two weeks back has been uploaded on YouTube : Trash is back 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Navarathri at Mantri Synergy

Chandra, Farzana and Madhumita represent the organising panel for Navarathri celebrations, starting Oct.16
Mantri Synergy residents association has mandated a three-member volunteer group - Chandra, Farzana and Madhumita -  to do the spadework for Dasara/Navarthri celebrations, starting Oct.16, at the Clubhouse.
The 9-day celebrations includes 'Kolu', children's singing,  pot-painting, OMR Greens video show for children. I suggested that the ladies could consider planting a sapling on the clubhouse lawns  to mark Dasara celebration.
Chandra  would want to see Mantri Synergy participate in the Kolu contest announced by The Times of India Group.
Madhumita suggested,  apart from display of traditional dolls, the kolu should have a theme and wondered if OMR Greens had any ideas to offer.
The three women listed the following tasks:
1) Shop for a kolu stand
2) Collect dolls on loan from Mantri residents for the clubhouse Kolu display.
3) Designate 9 families that volunteer to make 'sundal' for distribution as evening prasad.
4) Have a group of Mr Viswanathan's music students sing during the evening puja time.
5) Get the association to award certificates of participation to children taking part in various programmes.
6) Organise children pot-painting on the driveway and elsewhere on a weekend.
7) Mobilise residents for kollum (rangoli) show at clubhouse entrance.
8) Plant a sapling in celebration of Dasara.
The three-woman group would be happy to consider other ideas  residents may have, and and hear from volunteers who can add value to our celebrations.           

OMR Greens - an update

First, something that's not so nice and encouraging.
Within 2 weeks of our 29/9 trash-busting on OMR , Padur,  garbage is back on the site - like the curl of a dog's tail that we sought to straighten out (to use the anology of a friend of mine). But then wasn't this anticipated ? Trash littered all around OMR Greens concrete bin (costing Rs.1,000) shows, if anything, that we still have a long way to go in educating the uninformed. Maybe, after some weeks, we need to revisit the site, and call it, Trash-busting 29/10. Meanwhile,let us move the panchayat to get the bin emptied now and then. 
Now, the positives: We heard from a resident at Thoraipakkam that his community would like to be associated with OMR Greens. Isn't that encouraging ?
Padur panchayat chief would like us to trash-bust at Padur main street (bus stop), preferably, this Sat. Oct.13. He also wants  OMR Greens T-shirt to wear. Of course, he has his own agenda. Who doesn't ?
Our agenda is to get Panchayat chief on our side. He may not be much of a help, but he wouldn't be a hindrance to our plans. Mr Gopalan R would want us to take out a anwareness march through Padur streets, carrying 'green' placards.
We plan to approach Hindustan University authorities for planning a joint programme to clean their vicinity. We already have the backing of the auto-stand people.
From viewpoint of some youngsters in OMR Greens, we are not moving fast enough. For instance, Neeraj 'B' Singh spoke, at our review meet last night, of organising a OMR photo contest, and approaching companies with CSR account for sponsorship. We reckon he wants us to move at bullet speed. The 'B' I have put in as his middle name stands for 'bullet'

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Dumping in Muthukkadu Lake ?

Muthukkadu Lake on ECR, as viewed from Mantri Synergy on OMR

Pallavaram municipal chairman has been directed by the national green tribunal not to dump garbage into Pallavaram Lake. A Madipakkam resident S.P. Surendranath Karthik, who petitioned the tribunal has also claimed damages under the 'polluter pays' principle. But then the civic body would argue that dumping has been happening for decades. Besides the municipal waste collectors aren't the only culprit.  Decades of dumping  truckloads of trash from elsewhere may well have contributed to the current mess.
 Upshot is: Pallavaram Lake, spread over 300 acres, is shrinking, and whatever remains of the water spread, in the southern part of the lake, is said to have turned toxic. The  lake is the prime source of drinking water for residents in neighbourhood localities.

The lake from where Padur people source water is getting smaller, and increasingly polluted. The issue, if left unaddressed any further, can only get worse, at a faster pace,.
 The case before the green tribunal ought to serve as a wake-up call to Padur-Kelambakkam residents on OMR.  They need to take steps to prevent Padur and Muthukkadu lakes going the Pallavaram way. Stakeholders - developers,  residents associations and panchayat bodies - should come together to explore possibilities. Which include a co-ordinated approach to 1) check further lake pollution through people-panchayat monitoring system; and 2) evolve effective waste management and sewage processing/recycling system to cover the residential areas around Padur and Muthukkadu lakes

OMR Greens, a community service initiative, can play a role in facilitating  the process of mobilising public awareness and in connecting communities to work out a joint programme to address issues of common concern.